Burned to the ground in 61 AD by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Celts, the Roman settlement at Londinium was soon rebuilt by it's founders. With increasing prosperity it became the capital of their province of Britannia. Anglo-Saxons and Vikings vied for control after the Romans left around 410, and by the time William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1066 London was again the largest and richest city within what are now the British Isles.
The next millennium would see the city become the center of an empire, with the wealth of a quarter of the world flowing into its coffers. The widespread use of English around the globe is a legacy of that period. So too is the diversity of the city's population; a third of Londoners were not born in Britain. Sadly if Brexit (exit from the EU) actually happens, that diversity may be at risk, but as the pound sinks your tourist dollars and euros will buy more.
As a global center for theater, music, or the visual and performing arts, London has few rivals. Various and excellent international restaurants and a revival of traditional cooking have put an end to a century of jokes about bland English food, from the Victorian era through the post-war years. Britain now produces about 700 different kinds of cheeses for example –100 more than France.
The lives of gay people during these past few decades have also improved astoundingly, compared with those who endured the dark years between the prosecution of Oscar Wilde and the suicide of Alan Turing. Today's gay scene ranks among the best in the world, with a vast array of bars, pubs, clubs, cafes and saunas serving the community day or night.
Two centuries ago Samuel Johnson famously said: "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." There's always lots going on here in one of the largest and most diverse LGBT communities on the planet, and the 25 million tourists who arrive each year might agree that a trip to London won't soon be forgotten.
Gatwick and Heathrow airports get most international arrivals. Express trains from Heathrow to Paddington Station take 15 minutes. The Gatwick Express takes 30 minute to Victoria Station. Tickets can be bought online or on the train. A return ticket is good for up to 30 days.
Stansted Airport has an express train to Liverpool Street Station or buses to Victoria Station. Luton Airport has a free shuttle bus to Luton Parkway Station, where you can catch a train to Kings Cross/St. Pancreas Station.
Eurostar trains from Europe arrive at Waterloo station.
Getting around London is a snap. Taxis are everywhere, buses are frequent, and the Underground (better known as 'the Tube') goes most everywhere. Five lines now have 24-hour weekend service on Friday and Saturday nights: the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, and the Victoria, making that late-night bar-hop from Soho to Vauxhall a lot easier and less expensive. Night Tube trains run every 10-20 minutes, and night buses and taxis at your destination station can get you further along your way. Plans to extend the service to more lines are in the works.
An Oyster card, (available at the Oyster Visitor shop, Oyster Ticket Stops, stations, bus and tram stops), will save about half the price of single Underground tickets. Bus trips cannot paid for in cash, so use an Oyster, a contactless payment card, a paper Travelcard or a Bus & Tram Pass. You can also use any debit or credit card with a contactless symbol for payment. Be sure to “tap out” when leaving, or risk being charged the maximum possible fare. See the Transport for London and Visitor Shop websites for full details.
London's bike-sharing scheme is called Santander Cycles, and you don't have to be a member - a debit or credit card will do. As with similar programs in other cities, all journeys under 30 minutes are free - after that pay £2 for 24 hours (an annual pass costs £90). To return the bike push it firmly into any empty docking point at one of the many stations scattered across London --about 11,500 bikes at 750 stations. oBike dockless bikes, unlocked with an iTunes app, became available on the streets of London and Manchester just this summer, 2017.
The Emirates Air Line (aka the Thames cable car) is a five-minute (rush hour) or ten-minute gondola ride across the River Thames, connecting Royal Docks (Royal Victoria station) with Greenwich Peninsula (North Greenwich station) - including a great view of the city.
If you do drive, or rent ("hire" they say here) a car, be aware of the Congestion Charge Zone for which you must pay a daily surcharge. It covers most of central London. See the CCZ link, or ask your car rental company.
Media & resources
Attitude, BOYZ Magazine, GayTimes, Gay-to-Z, and QX Magazine have gay news, reviews, club and party updates, photos and listings. Boyz has day-by-day club event listings in print and online. The Pink News and The GayUK websites cover LGBT news of Britain, the US, and the world.
Ginger Beer is an online Lesbian guide to London.
The LGBT Underground blog covers “Urban LGBT Talent” from the UK, and worldwide, with info on local live music performances, hiphop, poetry/ spoken word events, videos, promos; and events such as QueerFest.
'Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ observing the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England, sponsor events in support of London’s current queer activism, culture and performance in all its glory.
In Same-sex desire and gender identity, The British Museum proposes that "the past is much queerer than we have often thought." An April-October 2017 Tate Britain exhibition will feature Queer British Art 1861–1967 to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England.
For wallet-friendly lodgings options, see Outlet, with lists of gay-owned/gay-friendly apartments and rooms, including long-term rentals.
KCTV is an online guide and media site for new arts, fashion, music and culture events of a colorful variety.
The Off-West End website can keep you updated on all the independent theater productions in London. Visit Britain and Visit London are two useful general public tourism websites covering the popular cultural events, sights and attractions.
London Helicopter website, besides the offers of aerial tours of the city, provides an interactive map with locations of some lesser known sights, historic sites, haunted buildings and other odd but noteworthy places.
The Southbank Centre complex (the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery), is Europe’s largest center for the arts. Nearly a thousand paid performances of music, dance and literature are staged here, as well as over 300 free foyer events. The BFI (British Film Institute) Film Festival takes place here each October, also the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in spring.
Stonewall has an online guide with history, Information and advice about laws that affect LGBT people in Britain, and how to deal with the police and the courts.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below click the name. See our London gay map & listings pages for more businesses, and our events listings page for a sample of what's going on in gay London.
For the most part London is very safe, but for your own peace of mind keep your wallet in your front pocket. Leave your passport at your hotel (keep a photocopy with you), and use common sense when cruising.
Ace Hotel Shoreditch (100 Shoreditch High St; 207-613-9800), American gay-owned hotel chain, modern rooms, various sizes, Hoi Polloi brasserie dining/cocktails.
Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd; 207-278-3294), three rooms above popular gay bar in King's Cross, breakfast at the restaurant.
FitzBB (Fitzovia; (207-834-372-866) gay B&B townhouse, quiet street, not far from Soho.
Griffin House (22 Stockwell Green; 207-096-3332) gay-run holiday apartments near Vauxhall gay village.
Outlet Holidays (Outlet4holidays.com) Soho studio apartments, multi-level units, daily or weekly rentals, walk-in Soho office.
Swinton Hotel (18 Swinton St; 207-837-1451) central location in King's Cross, relaxed vibe, modern rooms with bath/showers.
See our lodgings listings for locations and websites for above hotels, and another two dozen hotel and guesthouse suggestions.
Dance Party Nights
Club Kali has been doing South Asian dance parties for over 18 years, playing Bollywood Indian Glitter, Bhangra, Arabic, and RnB - now at Club Kolis (1 Archway Rd, Highgate), and also participates in Urban World!, at Scala, Kings Cross.
Gutterslut, now apparently on hiatus, was a playfully erotic dress-up and dress-down affair, that took every few months at various clubs around London, in Berlin, and at Bestival on the Isle of Wight.
Heaven G-A-Y still pulls good crowds for their Thursday Porn Idol contests where amateurs get naked to compete for £100 cash prizes. Friday Camp Attack, and G-A-Y Saturdays are some of the biggest gay dance events in the UK. Popcorn Mondays feature top DJs playing a variety of music and they welcome everyone.
Orange Nation presents: A:M at Protocol Fridays 11pm to Saturday 11am; Beyond Saturday/Sunday mornings from 4am - noon afterhours parties at Fire; plus special parties such as WE Party events at Coronet. The famous Orange Sunday night/ Monday morning DJs play vocal and upbeat deep house to pumping tech house, midnight-7am, now at Lightbox. For other party nights and special events see their website.
Savage Fridays + Saturdays at Metropolis (235 Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green), the late night dirty disco of East London where anything goes; little sister of the infamous Club Collective, Sink the Pink; Disco Music, Pole Dancing Drag Queens.
Union hosts Wrong, a gay/straight Friday night/ Saturday morning 1am-1pm afterhours, with cutting-edge underground tech house dancing each week in Vauxhall. Also Glamorous 1-11am Sunday Night/ Monday morning after-club event, and FMG a Wednesdays midnight to 8am House and Tech dance party. Nudity Club takes place here at Tool Shed with naked Sunday dance and cruise afternoons, and 4th Sunday naked foam parties.
The Way Out Club "for girls, boys and inbetweenies" is a Saturday night cabaret and dance party for transgender people and friends, in Whitechapel.
EXILIO at Muse Soho, are Latin dance nights. They also participate in Urban World Events at Scala in Kings Cross. Lady Olé is another Latin-popular and queer kitsch night, at Nightclub Krolis/ Archway Tavern.
Fabric, the famous Islington dance club closed down after drug-related deaths last year, reopened in late 2016 with the support of mayor Sadiq Khan. Stricter regulations require entry only for those 19 and older, with government issued IDs scanned at the door, more drug ban enforcement, and fewer bass-driven nights.
The Coronet Theatre dance club had expected to be closed in January 2017 after 138 years, to be demolished for shopping center expansion and Elephant and Castle district gentrification, but got a 12-month reprieve until the end of the year, with events to continue in the meantime.
Men's & Fetish Party Events
Bears nights in London include: XXL Saturdays at Pulse, and Come to Daddy Thursday cruise nights at Underground, welcoming daddies, big boys, chubs and chasers, but also any and all men, with no dress code.
Club CP meets 7-11pm every Tuesday (except the first one) at Bunker Bar/East Bloc in Shoreditch, for men-only corporal punishment sessions. Also at Bunker, The London Jack-Off Club meets 7-11pm every third Monday. Other men's nights include Klub Spankz Thursdays at Underground/ Central Station.
Backstreet fetish/rubber/leather club features Buff naked, underwear and jock nights every Wednesday, Sunday (with Mega Buff every 1st Sunday) and every Saturday except the first Saturday of the month; and Naked Mates on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.
Fitladz is a night for fit and sport-loving lads to socialize, cruise, dance, and get up on stage for amateur strip contests, at various venues.
H-PartyBoys, “The hottest underground party on the gay scene” gets together 250-300 sexy/ handsome, gay/bi guys, ages 18-40, from London and beyond, for safer-sex and mixing in drug and attitude-free, social/ sexual environments. Events include: Boys & Sirs, Pool Parties, Horse Fairs, Sports Parties, Stark Bollock Naked and Total Fekking Nude nights. See Jamie H-P for upcoming dates and membership application.
Underground, under Central Station in Kings Cross, also hosts fetish nights that include: ABC, Butt Naked, Feet, Spankz, SOP (streams of pleasure), Sweet Wednesdays, and City Boys, an after work suit and tie club "for a big office orgy." Naked nights also take place here with XXX-Club 4th Friday sessions during which they tape the fun, then make DVD copies for participants to keep.
Leather/fetish communities have weekly and monthly events that include: HardOn, with leather, rubber, sports or skin dress code, and live sex shows at Mirror Arch/ Fire, Vauxhall; and Hotwired at Ewer St with a strict leather/rubber dress code, for gay men and women. Torture Garden, and BiZarre Events are more gender-mixed events. Fetish Week takes place in mid-July.
Cruise, naked and sex nights are also frequent features at Ted's, and the Vault, among others. Naked dance nights for men are ongoing affairs called Buff (Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays) at Bunker Bar, and Nudity at Union, with Sunday naked afternoon/evenings and 4th Sunday naked foam parties.
See local gay magazines and websites such as Boyz, with daily listings to keep up with all these ever-changing events and special club nights. For a complete list of the bars and clubs we mention, with map locations, web-links and contact information, see our listings and events tabs.
Bars, pubs, & cafes
Gay life is everywhere across this vast metropolitan area, but Central London is the best place to start. Soho's Old Compton Street is a major artery with plenty of bars and pubs here and in surrounding streets. The Vauxhall Gay Village, south of the Thames, has a cluster of popular clubs, especially of interest to leathermen and bears, and at the dance clubs set into the railway embankments the partying goes non-stop from Friday until Monday morning.
Backstreet (Wentworth Mews), serious Friday-Sunday gay fetish club with strict rubber/ leather dress code, naked dance parties, dedicated following, private smokers' area; running parties and special events include Buff every Wednesday and Sunday, and most Saturdays, with MegaBuff (longer hours) first Sundays.
The Grapes (76 Narrow St, Limehouse), Dickens wrote of it, Ian McKellen is now a lease holder; beautiful and historic old pub and restaurant with pleasant mix of people and good food.
Troxy (490 Commercial Rd, Limehouse), 1933 art deco building, performance and events venue, music concerts, dance, comedy, drag shows.
Old Ship (17 Barnes St, Limehouse), gay mix neighbourhood pub, live music and cabaret, pool games, beer garden, big selection of real beers/ales, and wine.
White Swan (556 Commercial Rd, Limehouse), festive pub with amateur strippers, slapstick entertainment, live DJs, drag shows, karaoke; Sunday dancing, Latin/Salsa, line and ballroom, followed by funk/house.
Soho, West End & Central London
Admiral Duncan (54 Old Compton St) famous raspberry exterior, popular, pleasant place for drinks, center of Soho scene, across from Comptons.
Balans Cafe (34 Old Compton St), never-closes/ open 24-hours, Contemporary Global dining, pre-theatre drinks, post-club snacks, great breakfasts, outdoor dining.
Balans Soho (60 Old Compton St) stylish bar/lounge and restaurant, light fare burgers to full steak and seafood meals, Soho central, open daily from 7:30am, late weekends 'til 6am; weekend brunch.
Circa (62 Frith St), upscale Soho gay club open nightly, young crowd, mostly guys, diva emcee, pumped up house music DJs, comfy big leather sofas, no cover.
City of Quebec (12 Old Quebec St), "non-scene" traditional pub for mature gay men, karaoke, drag host nights, DJs in The Den; noon to 6pm soup and sandwiches, liquor coffee drinks.
Comptons Of Soho (53 Old Compton St), no cologne male turf on two levels, always crowded by late afternoon, spills later into the street; inexpensive drinks, beers, wines, spirits, relaxed upstairs lounge.
Duke of Wellington (77 Wardour St, Soho) conversation video bar, DJs, mixed ages, mostly regular-guys, busy early, decent prices, short pub-crawl from Comptons.
Fabric (77a Charterhouse St, The City), gay-friendly dance club in three rooms, serious DJs, many kinds of music. Re-opened in late 2016.
Freedom (66 Wardour St, Soho), stylish club, early evenings trendy mixed crowd, special martinis and cocktails, dance floor, cabaret shows.
Friendly Society (79 Wardour St, Soho), Ken and Barbie-doll ceilings, friendly vibe, 18+ mixed crowd, weekday DJs playing chill-out music.
G-A-Y Bar (30 Old Compton St, Soho) elegant video bar on three levels, gay-favorite TV shows, performers, talent contests, cheap drinks and bagels.
G-A-Y Late (5 Goslett Yd) modern style, late-night lounge and dance club, near the Tottonham Court Rd tube station, late night Sunday drinking for members.
Halfway II Heaven (7 Duncannon St), 9-5 guys, traditional pub upstairs, karoke, cabaret entertainment nightly, downstairs intimate encounters.
Heaven G-A-Y Club (Under the Arches, off Villiers St) legendary dance club, four rooms; Thursday Porn Idol amateur strippers show their all.
Kings Arms (23 Poland St), well-loved cozy Soho pub, cruise and chill-out favorite of local bears, never a cover charge.
Ku Club (30 Lisle St, Leicester Sq), young lads, three floors, open Saturdays until 3am, cheap drinks, topless barboys, DJs and VJs; Ruby Tuesdays lesbian night.
Ku Bar (25 Frith St), "Baby Ku" second location, music videos, Champagne Bar, fine coffees, three floors of music evenings, open nightly, DJs.
The Light Lounge (1 Newport Pl), bespoke cocktails by Ku, premium beers, wines and spirits lounge, with DJs on Friday and Saturday, bathed in natural daytime light, and nightime mood lighting.
London Gin Club (22 Great Chapel St), table service bar at The Star, gin-tonic tasting menu, nibbles and home-style pies, cheese and charcuterie boards, chocolate tasting board.
Molly Moggs (2 Old Compton St), small gay locals' pub/ tourist mix, karaoke, cabaret performers and drag shows upstairs.
Muse (23 Frith St), live music, LGBTQ cocktail bar, late night eatery; Pout women's party, alternate first Saturdays; Wednesday Bombshell nights for TV/TS and drag queens; WRTW live bands/performers monthly showcases for female musicians; and Exilio Latin Dance Club two Saturdays each month.
New Bloomsbury Set (76 Marchmont St, Camden), basement wine bar, cocktails and DJs, dancing, chill-out Sunday afternoons.
Piccolo Diavolo (8 Old Compton St, Soho), good pizza and pasta, grilled meats, reasonably priced lunches and dinners.
Retro Bar (2 George Ct), bar and lounge off the Strand, DJs, retro sounds, punk, pop, funk, glam; gaming machines, quiz nights, comedy nights; mixed men/women crowd, bears to divas.
Rupert Street Bar (50 Rupert St), afternoon cafe, burgers and sandwiches; after-work and evening cocktail bar, DJ sets, mostly young male crowd; Saturday night Glam!
She Soho (23a Old Compton St), lesbian bar "by girls, for girls," lively young crowd, drag king shows, quiz shows, DJs; part of the Ku group, events shared with Ku Leicester Sq.
Vault (139b-143 Whitfield St), 1pm-1am men's sex club, bar, cruising, dark rooms, mixed age range, underwear or Stripped strictly naked sessions.
Village (81 Wardour St, Soho), split-level space, cool vibe, men/women younger set hangout, DJs, go-go boys, karaoke, half price happy hours.
WayOut Club (64-73 Minores), every Saturday glamour, DJs, dancing and entertainment; trans girls, TVs, transvestites, cross-dressers, T-Girls, shemales, lady boys, drag queens, pre & post ops, friends, family and admirers.
Yard Bar (57 Rupert St), fashionable scene, fresh-air inner courtyard seating; mixed, mostly young and male afterwork crowd, DJ play vocal house. Weekend free-entry wristbands for nearby The Edge club.
Champion (1 Wellington Terrace, Notting Hill), comfy pub, food, diverse draft beers and lagers, real ales, fireplace, garden, WiFi, Sunday roasts.
Load of Hay (201 Pinner Rd, Watford), locals' goodtimes party pub, live music and cabaret, karaoke, quiz nights, drag, karaoke, bingo, home-style food, holiday parties; first Friday Girl Friday women's night, first Sunday Transgender Soirees, DJ nights.
Ted's Place (305a North End Rd, West Brompton), Tuesday/Friday/Saturday men-only cruise club, darkroom, naked/underwear nights; Sunday/Monday/Thursday transgender nights.
West 5 (56 Popes Lane), lively gay bar, quiz games, film nights, piano lounge, pool table, bingo, karaoke, drag emcees, variety shows, theme parties.
Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd, Kings Cross), drag cabaret, variety, vaudeville and comedy shows, karaoke, vocalists, DJs, restaurant steaks/burgers, fish, pasta and breakfasts; roof terrace, free internet. Underground men's zone.
Dalston Superstore (117 Kingsland High St. Shoreditch), daytime cafe and art gallery, all-day brunch, burgers/sandwiches, free Wi-Fi; later nightclub, live music, DJs, dancing, cheap drinks, hip young crowd, guest star emcees from Europe/USA and beyond; men/women, mostly gay but straight-friendly. Parties include Spin Cycle, Disco Brunch, and Goldsnap gurlzzzz nights. Shake Yer Dix threw their "last party" July 2016, but continue with parties such as Douche Bag here.
East Bloc (217 City Rd, Shoreditch), Wednesday through Saturday mostly gay club, 'odd glamour' decor, internet juke box, quirky party-boy dance club in black; big variety of Saturday theme nights including Handsome. Be attired to amaze. Also fetish nights at their Bunker Bar.
The Glory (281 Kingsland Rd, Haggerston), fresh new cabaret shows, indie-style drag, dancing, screenings and live performances. Queer Bodies life drawing, album release parties, Pub Queerz monthly pub quiz.
Hackney Attic (270 Mare St, Hackney), above the Hackney Picturehouse, with its Indie cinema foreign films and all-day cafe, is home to various events from crafts fairs to poetry readings and Queer Experiments nights for performers, writers, comedians and thinkers. See their facebook events page.
Kaos at Electrowerkz (7 Torrens St, Angel/Islington), monthly underground warehouse parties at a gritty/ industrial venue, techno-electro dance, fetish, tatoos, chic & fashionable kinky crowd, sometimes guest performers.
Underground Club (37 Wharfdale Rd; under Central Station), men-only fetish, rubber, spanking, naked, and cruise parties.
VFD - Vogue Fabrics Dalston (66 Stoke Newington Rd, Stoke Newington), fashion gallery with downstairs minimalist boîte for hot and sweaty dancing, performance art, spoken word, cabaret, disco dancing, and special theme nights.
CLOSED: The Bloc (18 Kentish Town Rd, Camden), Friday and Saturday gay club nights.
Vauxhall & South London
The Bread & Roses (68 Clapham Manor St), South London gay-friendly cabaret; global artists performing fringe theatre, live music, and comedy.
The Bridge (8 Voltaire Rd, Clapham), wine & tapas bar, restaurant, cocktails, after-work gay mix, DJs after dark.
Counter & Backcounter (Arch 50, 7-11 S Lambeth Pl), upscale gay-popular French/American brasserie, breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch and dinner, wines/cocktails.
Ewer Street Car Park (29 Great Suffolk St, Southwark), courtyard and two indoor arches, events, club nights; was home to Hotwired leather/rubber dresscode fetish events for men and women, but it skipped 2016.
Fire (South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall), cutting-edge lighting and sound system, muscle guys mix with club kids. OrangeNation events include: Friday/Saturday 11pm-11am A:M; Sunday mornings 4am-noon Beyond afterhours; and at the Mirror Arch, Hard On third Saturdays, rubber/ leather/ uniform/ sports kit or naked (just your boots) nights. The Sunday night/ Monday morning midnight-7am Orange gay dance parties moved to the nearby Lightbox (6a South Lambeth Pl).
The Flying Dutchman (156 Wells Way, Camberwell, South London), LGBTQ-friendly historic pub, shows, performances, art exhibits, special events. ComUnion sex parties for men, the first Sunday and third Friday each month.
George & Dragon (2 Blackheath Hill, Duptford Bridge), late night gay cabaret bar, guys of many ages and types.
The Hoist (47C South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall) - CLOSED DEC 2016 - raunchy dress code/ boots only, men's leather/rubber fetish bar; bears, skinheads, buff guys, fetish store, Basement and new Bar Berlin; CP/spanking, naked, fister nights, plus occasional live sex shows. Berlin Bar is their men only fetish bar with strict dress code.
Ministry of Sound (103 Gaunt St, Southwark), all-night mainstream dance club; trailblazing global house music brands.
Prince of Greenwich (72 Royal Hill, Greenwich), ornate antique Victorian pub, TV lounge; home-style Italian food, regular cabaret entertainment, Tuesday 8pm movies, party events.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall), popular gay party bar, drag shows, male burlesque, wild shows and bizarre acts, diverse ages; popular Sunday shows - come before 4pm; August Fringe theatre presentations.
Two Brewers (114 Clapham High St, Lambeth), party and cabaret bar, karaoke, drag shows, rugby sports nights, house and guest DJs, bingo and karaoke nights.
Union and Tool Shed (66 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall), two-room underground dance club nights and afterhours. Various nights include: Bootylicious last Saturdays gay urban music parties; Nudity Naked Dance Club Sunday afternoon dancing/cruising, and monthly 4th Sunday afternoon naked foam parties; and Wrong, Saturday morning after-hours underground tech house dance party.
The Vauxhall Street Food Garden (South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall), open weekdays 11:30am-10pm behind Fire Club, with global street food vendors, craft beers, cocktails, garden seating and WiFi.
XXL at Pulse Club (1 Invicta Plaza, Southbank), big dance venue near Southwark Tube station, Saturday and Wednesdays, men-only low-cost, circuit parties, stripped-down bears, musclemen, guys of all kinds and ages.
CLOSED: Barcode Vauxhall (Albert Embankment); Bar Titania (75 Charing Cross Rd); Black Cap (171 Camden High St); Edge (11 Soho Sq); Green Carnation (5 Greek St, Soho); The Hoist (47C South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall); Imperial Arms (8 Lillie Rd, Fulham); Kazbar (50 Clapham High St, Clapham); Manbar (Charing Cross Rd); Madame JoJo's (Brewer St, Soho); and Popstarz (various venues); Queen's Head (25 Tryon St, Chelsea); The Roebuck (84 Ashmole St, Kennington). For a list of 150 gay bar/club closings since Y2K, see GayUK.
Saunas & Gyms
Chariots Vauxhall (63-64 Albert Embankment), open noon to 8am and non-stop Friday noon to Monday 8am; 20-man steam room, 30-man sauna, hot spa, video rooms, snack bar and Internet area.
Chariots Waterloo (101 Lower March), UK's largest sauna, open 24/7, 40-man steam room, huge cruising maze, video lounge, Internet area and snack bar.
E15 Club (6 Leytonstone Rd, Stratford) small sauna and steam room, hot tub, local rough trade and regular types.
Locker Room (8 Cleaver St, Kennington) local men's sauna, cruisy dark rooms, video lounge, fully naked all week long.
Pleasuredrome (Arch 124, Cornwall at Alaska, Waterloo) "gym with everything," large men-only sauna and spa, massage, dark rooms, tanning, cafe/bar, always open.
Sailors Limehouse (574 Commercial Rd), steam/sauna, big 20-man hot tub, cafe, lounge and three floors of play space.
The Stable (29 Endell St, Covent Garden), comfy lounge, steam room/sauna, Jacuzzi, massage, private rooms.
Saunabar Portsea (2 Portsea Place, Marble Arch), sauna, steam room, sports or Swedish massage, bar.
Sweatbox (1-2 Ramillies St, Soho) 24-hour sauna, Jacuzzi, maze, full gym, massage, house DJs, drinks and snacks, Saturday foam parties.
CLOSED: Chariots Shoreditch (1 Fairchild St); Chariots Streatham (292 Streatham High Rd).
Shopping & Services
BFI Filmstore (Belvedere Rd, South Bank, Waterloo), classic screenplays, limited edition DVDs.
Clone Zone - Soho (35 Old Compton St), CDs videos, books, magazines, ticket sales, staff knows the local scene.
Expectations (75 Great Eastern St, off Old St, Shoreditch), leather, rubber, fetish, toys, undies, guides, erotic books and comics; Mister B products.
Gay's the Word (66 Marchmont St), London's leading gay and lesbian bookshop, near King's Cross.
ICA (The Mall), best of new art and film from Britain and around the world, bookstore and cafe.
Prowler (5-7 Brewer St, Soho), books, videos, large enclosed porn section, fashion wear, variety of poppers, dildos, toys.
Regulation (17a St. Albans Pl, Islington Green), bondage accoutrements, leather, rubber, underwear, accessories; made-to-measure fitting services.
Above the Stag Theatre (Arch 17, Miles St), year-round theater program of comedy, drama and musicals, original gay-themed plays, cabaret, and a Christmas pantomime; also with full bar. New Vauxhall home after original home above gay bar The Stag in Victoria was demolished.
The Bears Movie Club bears meet to go to movies each month, visitors welcome.
The Jermyn Street Theatre (16-B Jermyn St) has new talent showcased at a studio venue.
Southbank Centre is three buildings full of music, dance, and visual arts, plus the London Philharmonic and Sinfonietta Orchestras perform here too. The complex is also one of the venues for the annual Lesbian Gay Film Festival in mid-March.
The British Museum has a vast collection of world art and artifacts, free to visitors.
Kew Gardens has extensive gardens and botanical greenhouses, an attraction that draws two million visitors each year.
The London Eye, also known as the 'Millennium Wheel,' has views of the city from 443 feet.
The life and earth science specimens at the National History Museum include famous dinosaurs.
The Tate Britain, the oldest gallery in the network (since 1897), houses a substantial collection of the works of J. M. W. Turner, plus a permanent collection of historic British and contemporary art with whole rooms dedicated to works by one artist.
The Tate Boat ferries you to the Tate Modern with it's contemporary collections at Bankside. Boats depart every 40 minutes.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Rd) has the world's greatest collection of decorative arts and design.
See more by scrolling down on our pics, events and experiences page.
George Michael was reported to have said, when caught with his pants down in Hampstead Heath, 'Fuck off! This is my culture.' As Mark Turner of King's College writes in the Guardian newspaper: 'queer encounters in parks, on embankments, in toilets, streets and back alleys are an integral part of the way our cities, and sexualities, express themselves.'
Turner, who wrote Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of New York and London, recommends Hampstead Heath, extolling the crowd of 'leather queens, randy teenagers, local husbands, young and old, black and white.' He complains, however, about the distance one must walk. 'Have you ever tried getting a taxi at Jack Straw's Castle at 4am?'
Hyde Park is noted as runner-up, as well as being the more international option. Russell Square and Bloomsbury Square, once cruisy with students, office workers and pickpockets, are both now locked up tight at night.
See the other UK cities we cover: Birmingham, Blackpool, Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester in England, Cardiff in Wales, Belfast in Northern Ireland, plus Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.